Arion Lyre

83. The Structure of Rime, by Robert Duncan, with etchings by Frank Lobdell

The Structure of Rime, by Robert Duncan, with an introduction by Michael Palmer, and with prints by Frank Lobdell, 2008.

Structure of Rime binding with etchingsThe Structure of Rime brings together for the first time all of the prose-poems in this acclaimed series by San Francisco poet Robert Duncan. The book is augmented with three etchings by California artist Frank Lobdell, who knew the author, as well as two photographic portraits of Duncan.

Robert Duncan (1919-1988) was one of the most influential American poets of the second half of the twentieth century. Two of his major works were large serial poems entitled Structure of Rime and Passages. He numbered each sequence, publishing them in magazines as they were written, and then inserting them into his books of poetry, collections covering distinct chronological periods. A collected edition of The Structure of Rime never appeared, probably because Duncan did not want to close off the possibility that he might compose more poems in that series and preferred to keep them in the train of his poetry as a whole.

Robert DuncanThe Structure of Rime is an extended discussion and demonstration of Duncan’s poetics, his principles of prosody, his belief in the open form, and in content unconstrained. Twenty years after Duncan’s death, the Arion Press is publishing for the first time together the thirty-one poems of the series that appeared during Duncan’s lifetime, plus one published posthumously in the year of his death, and six first published now.

Poet Michael Palmer, a friend of Duncan’s from the early 1970s, has written an introductory essay forthis book. Palmer writes that Duncan “challenged the myth of originality that had become deeply ingrained in the poets of his generation, while simultaneously, if paradoxically, asserting a particular originality of his own.” Palmer guides readers into the poems with an open mind to experience what cannot be explained.

The book concludes with Duncan’s “Notes on The Structure of Rime”, two discourses that Duncan wrote, in 1961 and 1973. Readers will find these notes both helpful and challenging. He ranges from the pure pleasure of being read to as a child and the necessity for affectless recitation of poetry to observations about the body politic and poetic.

Arion Press publisher Andrew Hoyem’s connections with Duncan and his poetry span many years, and a series of serendipities made this book possible (read Andrew Hoyem’s full account of the story behind this book). Christopher Wagstaff, one of two trustees administering Duncan’s estate, worked with Arion Press in 2007 on the publication of a book by the artist Jess, Duncan’s companion, and subsequently Wagstaff agreed that Arion should publish Duncan’s Structure of Rime series. In preparing for publication, the curator of Duncan’s archives went through the notebooks of the poet and found six “Structure” poems that had not been published and one that had been published in a literary magazine as a memorial soon after Duncan’s death.

Etching by Frank LobdellThe book is accompanied by Frank Lobdell’s abstract etchings with aquatint. Lobdell is one of America's premier postwar abstract painters; he is of the same generation as Duncan and they traveled in the same artistic milieu of the Bay Area, sharing interests in modernism and surrealism. Lobdell maintains that “the purpose of painting is always to go beyond what can be said in words”. Duncan and Lobdell crossed paths at times, and they held each other’s work in high regard. More about the artist Frank Lobdell.

Two black and white etchings by Lobdell are inset into windows on the front and back covers of the book. The prints, variations on similar elements, measure 5-5/16 by 4-1/16 inches, and have been printed by Robert Townsend, at R. E. Townsend, Inc., in Georgetown, Massachusetts. In addition, each copy comes with a separate black-and-white etching with aquatint, signed and numbered by the artist, presented in a folder. The extra prints were editioned by David Kelso at his intaglio studio, in Oakland, California. The prints are suitable for framing.

A small number of even larger color prints of twelve images by Lobdell may be purchased with the book-and-print set. Framing is optional. The printing again was done by David Kelso. View images.

THE BOOK AND EXTRA PRINT

The edition of the book is limited to 275 numbered copies for sale and 26 lettered copies for complimentary distribution. The format is 11-1/4 by 7-1/2 inches, 96 pages. The type is Perpetua, designed by Eric Gill, composed by hand and on the Monotype. The paper is German mouldmade Zerkall Book Laid. The printing is by letterpress, except for one page bearing two photographs of the poet, printed by offset lithography. The binding is handsewn over tapes, full Japanese cloth over boards, in slipcase.

The accompanying print with each book comes from various editions of forty small etchings with aquatint made by Frank Lobdell from 1987 to 2000. The paper is mostly 11-1/2 by 12-1/2 inches, a few are 8-3/4 by 10-1/8 inches. Plate sizes vary, typically 4 by 6 inches but ranging from 1-3/4 by 3-1/16 to 8-7/8 by 7 inches. The editions are mainly 20, a few are 35, and one is 50, plus artist’s proofs and printer’s proofs. The prints and books have been randomly paired. The prints are of equally high quality, appeal, and value. The retail price of these prints sold individually is nearly as much as the price of the book-and-print set. Print documentation will be provided to buyers.

The book-and-print set is priced at $1,350. Available.

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THE COLOR PRINT EDITIONS

Buyers of the book-and-print set may purchase the larger color prints. Twelve images are offered, from small editions produced between 1983 and 2000. View images. Prints are priced from $1,800 to $4,500, depending on size and edition. Subscribers receive a 10% discount on these prints. Print documentation will be provided to buyers.

Structure of Rime title page


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Edition: The format is 11-1/4 by 7-1/2 inches, 96 pages. The edition of the book is limited to 275 numbered copies for sale. The binding is handsewn over tapes, full Japanese cloth over boards with etchings inset on front and back cover, in slipcase.

The accompanying print with each book comes from various editions of forty small etchings with aquatint made by Frank Lobdell between 1987 and 2000.

The book-and-print set is priced at $1,350.

Order securely online now:


Reserve now and pay offline:

Reserve your copy

Buyers of the book-and-print set may purchase the larger color prints. Twelve images are offered, from small editions produced between 1983 and 2000. Prints are priced from $1,800 to $4,500, depending on size and edition. View images.


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